Sep 182012
 

Born Of Silence: Number 5 in series (League) Living a dual life can be deadly, as Kere, an infamous member of the Sentella, is about to find out. As Kere he is feared across the galaxy, as Darling he is mocked, ridiculed and beaten on a regular basis.  No one outside the Sentella knows his true identity not even the resistance leader Zarya Starska – the woman Kere has given his heart to.

In the wrong place at the wrong time Kere finds all he thought he believed in to be a lie and vows to kill every resistance member he can find… including Zarya.

Darling’s story was eagerly awaited and it did not disappoint, we went from emotional highs to lows and experienced every emotion possible. I was sobbing in parts, thankful I was reading it alone and my kids or husband weren’t in the room! In previous books Darling has been openly homosexual and I was worried that the explanation for him being in love with a woman would be weak. I should never have doubted Sherrilyn Kenyon however, the reasoning was flawless and very believable.

For those of you who have read the Dark Hunter books, Darling is very much like Acheron (apart from being a god of course – sex god maybe), a tortured hero with so much baggage it is surprising he comes out even halfway sane. In the same way that Acheron is by far my favourite book from the Dark Hunters, this book has easily become my favourite in this series.

There is a lot of input from characters from the previous books which I always enjoy and their responses when finding Darling with a woman are a picture (well as much of a picture you can get with a book).

In summary if you enjoyed the previous books in this series you will love this one, it is bigger, better and much more of an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

 

Jun 222012
 

Existence - Limited Edition 3D Cover My initial reaction when I finished Existence was OMG THAT WAS AWESOME!! but I don’t think that is quite objective enough so I will try and break it down a bit!

There are books that give you a warm happy glow at the end, ones that make you cry but understand how and why it had to happen that way.  Some make you angry because you don’t understand or feel that the author made a bad decision.  Existence has so many layers and is on such a completely different level that I’m struggling for words right now.  Satisfied, elated, saddened, optimistic, thoughtful?  There’s a start!

I’ve been glued to the book for the past two days and for some of that time I kept repeating to my husband, ‘I’m gripped and absorbed but still not sure what is actually going on’.  It’s not because it’s confusing but because of the clever way it’s written and the fact that the reader and the characters learn about what’s going on at the same pace.  It definitely feels like a shared journey.

The premise is very simple; is our existence guaranteed? Do we take it for granted and will we bring about our own destruction in some way?  In our endless search to know we aren’t alone in the universe, that we aren’t just a grand fluke, what would we do if we found proof?  And what would be do if that proof confirmed our greatest fears – that all technological civilisations die.

Do we accept that?  Do we go quietly into the night? Do we fight, try to change the inevitable?

Actually the premise isn’t very simple at all is it?

This book has gotten so thoroughly into my head that even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about what I’d read.

At first I found the seemingly disparate cast a little confusing but as the book progressed, it made increasingly more sense.  They aren’t people that are connected by family or associations in a traditional story sense, but by circumstances and a drive to solve the same problem. Each of the major cast were clearly defined and compelling in their own way.  However, David uses the characters as a vehicle for exploring the book’s premise, which doesn’t detract from my enjoyment or liking of them, but does make different reading to more traditional character driven stories.

I found the technology fascinating.  Existence is set in the near future, and I really enjoyed seeing David Brin’s vision of future technology.  Existence is a good blend between hard and soft science fiction, the science feels real but the book’s core philosophy is around the social and psychological impact of that science.

The story is interspersed with excerpts from fictional contemporary articles and books, which add flavour and help build the story. They provided a fascinating insight into the sociology of the time and probably has relevance today! Another nice touch I loved were references to real authors and books from our time, viewed by the characters in the book as historical pieces, and a few of those made me chuckle.

I’ve not read anything by David Brin since The Postman when I was in my late teens and I loved that book a lot.  I want to go and read his back-list now because his ‘voice’ is such a powerful one and he has a very clean, clear way of writing that even a pulp fiction junkie like me can understand.

Thought provoking but mind-blowing sci-fi at its very best.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Brin
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jan 312012
 

If you are a fan of great science fiction and haven’t yet read Germline, then go and track down a copy in your favourite format now!  I would say I’ll wait but then you will be engrossed and you won’t read the rest of this post so… read this first, then get cracking ;)

It’s an astonishing read; brutal, gritty and full of the reality of those who are fighting a war, even in a futuristic setting.  I can’t wait for Exogene, the next book in the series which is due out in March! If you need more convincing then read my review and then decide.  Either way, T.C. McCarthy was kind enough to agree to being my next victim author for Irreverent Questions.

On with the irreverence!

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
A dog who belonged to a good family, with kids. That way I’d sleep, eat, and play all day (when I wasn’t pooping).

Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
Yes. I put the kids to bed and then set my alarm for 4 AM so I can get up early enough to have peace and quiet. Ugh.Office

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I built my own office by renovating an empty room in our house; we were using it for storage and I thought it was time to make it more useful. The two pictures; one is how my space looks right now at 5 AM – dark and out of focus. The grey splotch under the desk is one of my dogs, who is in the other picture, and who keeps my feet warm.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I knew I forgot to do something. Crap!

Whose opinion matters most to you?
This is a fantastic question, and I’d line them in this order, from most to least important: 1. Editor, 2. Reader, 3. Agent, 4. Me.

Do you get fully dressed to write?
I’m in my boxers as I write this, and the manuscript for my next novel is open in another window – so, no? :)

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Positive reviews, negative reviews, the news, and just about anything you could think of. The mood is always there. But the inspiration can come from anywhere, and it’s just important to keep my mind open so I can recognize inspiration when it presents itself.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Either John Malkovich or Steve Buscemi.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve had?
That the genetic soldiers are ”male fantasy female supersoldiers.” Uh…no. I don’t fantasize about bald sixteen year olds, and I think this comment says more about its author than it does me. The choice of girl genetics was made to (a) convey a sense of gloom, that future society deteriorates to the point where it replaces women in combat with mass-manufactured girls, and (b) it just seemed really creepy. We get a better look at this society in books II and III. The curious can Google “male fantasy supersoldiers” for more information…

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
Fan mail from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan vets who convey a simple message: that I got it right.

How do you deal with negative comments?
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s an honor to be part of the literary or genre debate. I’d rather get negative comments than no comments. So I ignore them when they’re motivated by something other than honest criticism, absorb them when they have value, and try to be grateful that I have a shot at writing novels.

PennyDo you have pets, and if so, describe them?
See the answer to the third question, above! I have four dogs and three kids, so it gets insane around here.

What is your favourite type of music?
I listen to Irish folk, Russian folk, and a lot of punk, shoegazer, and anti-grunge.

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Barefoot. All the way, barefoot.

Thanks so much to T.C. McCarthy for taking part, and if you want to know more, visit his Website, Facebook or Twitter!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of T.C. McCarthy


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, new feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Jan 132012
 

You may remember in June last year we reviewed Robopocalypse, and we liked it!  We gave it four out of five stars, and described it as

… an excellent, entertaining and emotional look at what might be if the Robots ever do rebel.

We knew at the time that Steven Spielberg had picked up the movie rights, and there’s news today on that project and when it might start going into production.

Via SFX magazine,

If current plans remain in place, then the next sci-fi film we’ll see from Steven Spielberg will be Robopocalypse, based on the novel by Daniel H Wilson, which should go into production after the director’s finished his next movie project, Lincoln (not the vampire-hunting one, the serious one).

That’s pretty exciting news, but movie projects have a way of coming together and falling apart so we’ll continue crossing our fingers.  You can track updates about the movie on IMDb (normal caveats about accuracy).

Jan 072012
 

This isn’t a definitive list of what is being released this year, just books I am looking forwards to in particular.  I have probably missed some and of course, there will always be authors that are new to me to be discovered.  Let the reading begin… as they get released of course ;)

January

Lothaire by Kresley Cole (Immortals After Dark #12)
Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #1)
Gideon by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #2)
Seven Princes by John R. Fultz (Books of the Shaper #1)
Unclean Spirits by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #1)
The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James
Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #2)
Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz (Dark Legacy #1)
Heir of Night by Helen Lowe (Wall of Night #1)
No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose
Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan (The Riyria Revelations)
Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells (Sabina Kane #4)
Eternal Hunger by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #1)
Eternal Kiss by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #2)

It’s very hard to choose just one out of all the great books being released this month but my top pick for January is No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose.

February

Mass Effect: Deception by William C. Dietz
Darker Angels by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #2)
Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #3)
A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell
The Dread by Gail Z. Martin (Fallen Kings Cycle #2)
Eternal Captive by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #3)

The Dread by Gail Z. Martin continues the Fallen Kings Cycle and is my top pick for February.

March

Bridge of Dreams by Anne Bishop (Ephemera #3)
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega #3)
Recipe for Love by Katie Fforde
Elijah by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #3)
Damien by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #4)
Vicious Grace by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #3)
Fated by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #1)
Infamous by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Chronicles of Nick #3)
Exogene by T. C. McCarthy (Subterrene War #2)
Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10)
A Rising Thunder by David Weber (Honor Harrington)

March is a very tough month to choose a top pick from, with books out by several favourite authors.  I am going to have to go with Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward since I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood and this is Tohr’s story!

April

Noah by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #5)
Killing Rites by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #4)
Vengeance by Ian Irvine (The Tainted Realm #1)
Gathering of the Lost by Helen Lowe (Wall of Night #2)
The Love Letter by Fiona Walker
32 Fangs by David Wellington (Laura Caxton #5)

The Love Letter by Fiona Walker is my pick for April, her books never fail to amuse and entertain me.

May

The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham (Dagger and the Coin #2)
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison (Elder Races #1)
Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (League #5)
Frostbite by Richelle Mead,  Emma Vieceli and Leigh Dragoon (Vampire Academy Graphic Novel #2)

By May I will be jumping up and down with excitement with the release of Born Of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon, the next book in her brilliant League series!

June

Darkness Devours by Keri Arthur (Dark Angel #3)
Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey (Expanse #2)
Blackout by Mira Grant (Newsflesh Trilogy #3)
Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison (Elder Races #2)
Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione (Lords of Deliverance #3)
Cursed by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #2)
Messenger’s Angel by Heather Killough-Walden (Lost Angels #2)
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #2)
A Night like This by Julia Quinn (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2)
Silver-Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells (Sabina Kane #5)

This is not getting any easier!  June has so many books I am really excited about, but if my arm was twisted behind my back to choose (please don’t!) it would have to be Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione.

July

Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld #13)

July is a bit of an obvious one!

August

Time Untime by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark-Hunter #22)
Shadow Blizzard by Alexey Pehov (Chronicles of Siala #3)
Seawitch by Kat Richardson (Greywalker #7)
Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville #10)

Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn is my pick for August, I just love this series so much!

November

Death’s Angel by Heather Killough-Walden (Lost Angels #3)

This month speaks for itself ;)

Oct 032011
 

I read In Her Name: Empire in literally one sitting.  I couldn’t put it down and was so engaged I didn’t even want to stop for food!

There are almost two parts to this book.  First, an invasion of colonised space by an alien species, and humanity fighting back with enormous losses.  This is followed by a more fantasy-like setting with a gladiatorial feel which fills the rest of the book.  The two styles didn’t lessen the impact of the story at all, and if anything they made it more intriguing.

I loved how Michael Hicks showed us Reza’s life from a very young boy through to a man, and he is my favourite type of hero.  He never tries to be heroic, he just does what he can to survive, but without compromising his ideals.  Reza’s initial survival was enabled by ultimate sacrifice and incredible courage and from then on, I was hooked.  His decisions were wonderfully reasoned and played out, and even after I’d finished the book I kept thinking about it, and what would I have done in his situation.

The Kreelan race provided a puzzle for me, and I think it’s down to Hicks’ clever writing that while you know they are the enemy, you slowly come to realise they are also a deeply connected and spiritual people, with their own strict way of life that is completely alien. Their history and their mystical way of life was brilliantly envisioned and made it really easy to empathise with them, despite their role.

It wasn’t until the end of the book I was reminded that they are in fact, the enemy.  And I cried.

The plot was really well laid out, driving us through a series of events that forge Reza into a survivor, from young boy to man, with amazing strength of character and very likeable.

The character of one of the Kreelan warriors was really well conceived.  Again, it’s down to excellent writing by Michael R. Hicks that I hated the character at first, but as Reza grew and his perceptions changed, so did mine and I ended up loving her (no names, to avoid spoiling it)!

The Kreelan are a warlike people who are bound together by soul and so deeply steeped in honour, tradition and ceremony that it is stagnating their culture.  I thought it was interesting that on the Kreelan planet, there is no evidence of technology nor that the people could be capable of space flight, but it’s a given that they are since they are waging war on humanity. I suspect that will feature more in the next books of this trilogy.

The pace is tricky as it covers a long period of time but I thought Hicks handled the jumps forward well, and I enjoyed the book all the more because I got to see Reza at so many points in his life, and eventually learning who he is now.

The ending didn’t really come as a surprise, you knew the eventual outcome was always a possibility but that didn’t detract at all from its power.  Reza’s honour, belief and loyalty made him stand out amongst heroes and it moved me to tears.

In Her Name: Empire is a book that has heart, emotion, sacrifice, and courage and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Michael R. Hicks
  • Format: Kindle
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Sep 172011
 

This book is utterly amazing,  I can’t stress that enough. It hits every single sci-fi button I have; space opera, crime, horror, and just enough of a touch of romance to give it an emotional punch.  It has zombies, heroic sacrifice, interplanetary war, and some truly great action.

On paper that might seem like a book by the numbers but it really isn’t.  The writing is clever but eminently readable and the story just blew me away.  With such a heady mix of so many elements the plot could have been really confusing, yet I had no trouble following it.

The characters are believable, realistic and they quickly get into your mind, even those that are only present for a short time.  I loved Captain Jim Holden and his somewhat naive and altruistic view of life. He’s written so well that the odd mix of both admirable and foolhardy decision making is believable. The authors have given us a hero that acts like one despite the consequences.  The rest of the survivors were also well realised and added a lot to the depth and flavour of the story.  As an aside I did laugh when Naomi figuratively had to smack Jim into sense, one of a number of comic moments that help break up the considerable tension.

Detective Miller is a bit of an enigma.  A very strong character but obviously fundamentally damaged, and the complete opposite of Jim.  He sees things from a much more realistic perspective and can look at the bigger picture.  I thought the debates with Holden about his decisions, and them both being at opposite ends of the spectrum were very well written and thought out.  Neither were right or wrong but I found my own feelings on the matter coloured how I looked at it.  Miller’s involvement was excellent yet sad and the emotional writing of this character had me in tears towards the end of the book.

I thought the future technology side was well crafted and believable, taking into account physics and the forces at play when ships are moving.  I felt it all was very smooth, understandable and very creative.

The plot and pace are very much tied together as each chapter unfolds and both increase in intensity nicely.  I’ve seen some people say the ending employs deus ex machina, however I totally disagree because the groundwork had been building right from the start.  To me it was just another example of the clever writing in Leviathan Wakes.

I didn’t find out until after I’d finished, that James S. A. Corey is actually the pen name for two people; Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  I have to say I think they blended perfectly; sometimes you can get a feel of two voices in these situations but I was unaware and very surprised when I did realise.

An amazingly exciting space opera, and I absolutely can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: James S.A. Corey
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Jun 122011
 

Halting State is a book that ticks all my “I’m interested” boxes.  Its has lots of technology, virtual reality, augmented reality, on-line gaming, intrigue, mystery, crime, tabletop roleplaying references and a protagonist who’s full of self doubt.  So I keep having to ask myself why I found it so hard to finish.  The story is set in the near future and augmented reality is an essential part of every day life, the best example in the book is a network used by the Police to drive heads-up displays and overlays on their goggles/glasses.  The result being they always know who they’re talking to, their past history and everything they do is recorded and analysed.  The whole thing is so pervasive that the author tells us people can’t even find their way around big cities any more without their augmented reality map overlays.  Massively Multi-player Online Games are huge business, telephones are insanely powerful and provide all your local computing needs, everything is highly-connected, pervasive computing is the norm, and taxis drive themselves to your destination.

Against this backdrop of near-future technology is the theft of a bunch of digital assets which drags our little band of protagonists into a deadly hunt for what’s really going on.  Mix in some spy-vs-spy style espionage, some politics and a little bit of big business and we have what seems to be an engaging and complex backdrop for what should be an excellent journey.

Sadly, Charles Stross manages make it hard going.  The book is written in the 2nd person, with chapters alternating between the main protagonists.  Sometimes there’s even some overlap, so the end of one chapter from Elaine’s point of view in the second person, is then covered by Jack in the start of the next chapter.  This is particularly frustrating when one chapter ends, “You squeeze his hand tightly”, and the next starts, “You feel her hand in yours” (those aren’t in the book, just my example).  The 2nd person structure might work in some circumstances, but here it just adds to the overall confusion.  The rest of that confusion is delivered via the plot which is straggly and badly connected, and the technical jargon.  In an interview, Stross suggests that when he wrote this in 2008, only one of the technologies mentioned in the book wasn’t actually commercially available.  That may be true, but the sheer amount of jargon and technology mentioned is overwhelming.

I kept reading because I liked Jack (the burned out games developer), and Elaine (a forensic accountant), I even liked Sue (a Scottish policewoman). However, thanks to the 2nd person delivery and the rest of the structure, the characters don’t grow and remain pretty shallow.  Sure, they have their moments, and there are some brief flashes of what they could have been, but every time I felt I was getting to know them the 2nd person style threw me back to the real world.

The pace is okay, there’s humour, some amusing revelations and some excellent examples of what technology might turn into – but it’s all wrapped in such a chaotic and confusing plot that it’s too well hidden to fully enjoy.  I was not at all surprised when the end turned out to be nothing that we expected and it had to be explained de-briefing style in the last chapter.

The actual conclusion was a real let down after the build up and it felt like Stross just didn’t know where to take the whole thing in the end.

Having said all of that, I read the whole thing, and I laughed out loud a few times.  I enjoyed the technology when I could get past the jargon and I think Stross has provided an interesting insight into how things could turn out.  This book is absolutely not average – but I’m going to give it a squarely average score.  It could have been so much better and it’s saved only by the touches of brilliance amidst the chaos.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Charles Stross
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jun 092011
 

The story might sound familiar; sometime in the near future, a super-intelligent AI has co-opted all the machines in the world to wage war against humanity.  Humanity, of course, has lined itself up for this disaster by allowing more and more of the machines it takes for granted to be controlled by their own inbuilt computers.  It should be no surprise that eventually the machines stand up and rebel, and that premise has driven any number of books and movies in the past.  But dig just the tiniest bit deeper and you’ll find a far more complex story going on in Robopocalypse.

Along with the more subtle presentation of a familiar theme, this book presents the story in an unusual style.  It is presented as a number of reports or incidents viewed retrospectively by a third person, the narrator.  So while all books are a fusion of style and content, in this book the style is more than just a container for the words, it’s an actual part of the story.  Robopocalypse relies on this unusual structure to build a cohesive and moving story from a number of engaging vignettes.

Cormac Wallace narrates the story for us after a brief introduction, which actually starts just after the war is over.  In fact the first sentence in the book starts, “Twenty minutes after the war ends ….” so there are no spoilers in revealing this.  Cormac takes us back to before the war starts, through reports of a small groups of individuals who turn out to have pivotal roles in the upcoming struggle.  They include a US congresswoman, a lonely inventor, an American soldier and a London based hacker to name a few.  Each shows up over and over in different chapters focussed on them, and we eventually witness the rise of the artificial intelligence (Archos), and the terrible war which follows.

The vignettes are all excellently written and Wilson manages to present well rounded and engaging characters very quickly.  Which is good news, because this format could so easily have failed if the reader couldn’t empathise with or join the characters on their journeys.  It is the emotional engagement that drives the overall story arc, we mostly already know the end, so the only reason to read is to see how these people get there.

The individual chapters each cover very short periods of time, but together they take us from just before the war, to the moment where Archos takes control, through the actual fighting and right up to the end over three years later.  Each chapter has it’s own pace, some are frantic and filled with panic while others are more relaxed.  While we don’t get to see individual characters often or for very much time, the long time scale involved in the main story arc gives Wilson a chance to show us those characters have changed even if we don’t watch that process in action.

I did sometimes feel that pieces of the story were missing, or that I would have liked to have seen more of some of the characters, but that’s the nature of the format Wilson has chosen.  Perhaps less is more, and that desire to find out kept me turning the pages.  Either way the end result is an excellent, entertaining and emotional look at what might be if the Robots ever do rebel.  If my only complaint about a book is that it’s too short, then I think it’s a pretty good sign.  I thoroughly enjoyed Robopocalypse, and hope you do as well.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Daniel H. Wilson
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jan 192011
 

Exiled to Hallholme after he led a rebellion against the Constellation Empire, General Tiber Adolphus was expected to die from the planet’s barely habitable environment.  Much to Diadem Michella Duchanet’s annoyance, he refused to give in and instead managed to establish a small community that quickly expanded as convicts, malcontents,  and people with nowhere else to go were dumped and left to the mercies of Hellhole.  Struck by a meteor centuries earlier that wiped out all indiginous life, it’s a mostly barren wasteland with unpredictable and often deadly weather patterns.

Back in the Crown Jewel planets, the Lords and Ladies of the Parliamentary government enjoyed the fruits of the Deep Zone labours, requiring tributes from their already taxed economies, forcing them to give up valuable assets that would help their own colonists.  Determined not to let another rebellion take hold, the Diadem keeps her government on their toes, encouraging them to plot against each other if it suited her interest or simply have her spies and military personnel step in if it didn’t.  Diadem Michella Duchanet was the ruler of the Constellation and she would not have anyone get in her way.

For someone who read a lot of science-fiction when I was younger,  I don’t seem to be able to get into it much these days.  It has been a while since I found anything that held my interest, that wasn’t also linked to the romance genre.

Hellhole has completely changed that for me and I am very happy it did so.  It’s an engaging story of hazardous frontier worlds and brave pioneers yet also of intrigue, plotting and maneuvering among the nobles of  the vast Constellation Empire.   The despot ruler, Diadem Michella Duchanet, is a real piece of work, as are some of the myriad nobles that rule the individual worlds of the Crown Jewels planets.

When the book starts, General Tiber Adolphus is at the final battle of his victorious five year rebellion against the Diadem and her armies, and right from that first chapter I was drawn in.  And it didn’t really let up from there.

It’s a book that has so many different facets and layers; it isn’t just a book about a rebellion against an unfit ruler, nor just about the people who were imprisoned or volunteered as colonists on the Deep Zone worlds.  It’s not even just about the possibility of alien life.  It’s about everything that makes up a wondrous vision into a possible distant future.

The protagonists were really well written and I came to care about some of them very quickly.  I also didn’t just dislike the antagonists, I hated them.

Hellhole itself was described with vivid imagery and I could see it in my mind’s eye.  The other Deep Zone worlds too, but to a lesser extent.

The pace was excellent, going from almost a normal pace of life after the first few chapters to an almost frenzied state as different threads were coming together.  I even growled as I turned the last page and realised I would have to wait to find out what happens until the next book.  It caught me out, even though I should have realised that with everything that still needed to happen, it wouldn’t fit into the number of pages left.

The plot was so intricate and layered, I have no idea how the authors kept it straight, but it wasn’t confusing.  I knew where I was and what was happening, it just ramped up the tension as each layer was added.

There are a few shocks and surprises but I won’t spoil them here.  Suffice to say some of them were very sad but there is also joy to balance it out.

If you like great science fiction on an epic scale, you have to read Hellhole.. really!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)